WORCESTERSHIRE’S Severn Valley Railway has been recognised as one of the top three tourism experiences in England.

The 16-mile Kidderminster-to-Bridgnorth steam heritage line , which attracts up to a quarter of a million visitors each year, has landed the bronze medal in the Tourism Experience of the Year category of the English Tourist Board’s 2012 Visit EnglandAwards.

The railway outstripped almost 400 other visitor attractions to gain its place on the rostrum in a competition which English tourism regards as the ‘Oscars’ of the industry.

“You can’t buy the kind of prestige that comes with a Visit England award”, said SVR assistant visitor services manager Lisa Smith, after the railway received its accolade from ‘Visit England’ chairman, Penelope, Viscountess Cobham.

“It’s like getting three Michelin stars all at once or qualifying for the Uefa Champions League,” she said.

“We’re right up there with the Manchester City, the United and the Arsenal of the tourism industry, and without wishing to sound boastful, I have to say we’ve worked really hard for it.

“This is a very proud time for the railway.”

The Visit England award comes hot on the heels of another travel and tourism accolade for the SVR, which in April was named as the UK’s most coach-friendly historic visitor attraction, in the national competition organised by the Transport Events Group, and supported by the Coach Tourism Council and the Group Travel Organisers Association.

The gold medal for the Tourism Experience of the Year went to Livingstone Lodge, part of the Aspinall Foundation’s Wild Animal Park near Hythe, Kent which specialises in providing an African safari experience on a 100-acre ‘simulated Savanna’.

The silver award went to ‘Via Ferrata’, a climbing and walking experience, based on a working slate mine at Honister Pass near Borrowdale in the Lake District.